Ever since childhood, Chinese food has been an integral part of my life. Sunday lunch with my paternal grandparents consisted of takeout from a restaurant along Binondo or Banawe, while birthdays and death anniversaries were celebrated with a full-course lariat in a Chinese restaurant (usually in San Juan). Even the menu in someone’s wedding was—you guessed it— Chinese! And I confess—I’ve gotten tired of it because we have it so often!
However, with the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine in place, I’ve had more home-cooked food than restaurant food. Surprisingly, not all of them has been Chinese. The absence of my favorites then made me miss the yesteryears of lariat food or even the simple Yang Chow Fried Rice and Sweet and Sour Pork, among others.
6 Chinese Dishes that I Miss and Where You Can Get Them
6. Sweet and Sour Pork
A classic among kids and kids at heart, sweet and sour pork is something that everyone can enjoy. It features fried bites of pork tossed in a sticky red sauce served with bell peppers, onions, and pineapple cubes on the side. The sauce is made with a tomato base (usually ketchup), sugar, and an acid. While it’s relatively easy to prepare, I still miss eating it at Mann Hann. There’s just something about theirs that’s yummier than mine.
5. Oyster Cake
I may not be a fan of egg, but I can get behind a hot, freshly cooked piece of oyster cake. It’s a cross between a savory pancake and an omelet that’s filled with bites of briny oysters, leeks, and other vegetables. Consistency-wise, the edges are crunchy, while the inside is soft— almost sticky. People often pair it with ketchup or chili sauce, but I’m the type who likes it best on its own.
4. Prawn Sotanghon
Although Chinese in origin, sotanghon has also made its way into Filipino cooking. These glass noodles can be used in soups, stir-fried dishes, and even in spring rolls. For me, freshly-cooked prawn sotanghon really hits the spot, especially when cooked with lots of garlic, crisp cabbage, and the star— freshly steamed prawns. Finish it off with aromatic spring onions, and this borderline-soupy dish is one with rich briny flavors— a real treat!
3. French Beans with Taosi
To achieve a balanced meal, there needs to be greens on the table. My personal favorite is a stir-fried dish made with crisp French beans and a garlicky mix of ground pork and salted black beans (taosi). While seemingly straightforward, there’s an umami factor that I simply love about this dish. Plus, my type of French beans— the kind that’s long and thin— are pretty hard to come by, so any chance I find any, I order it first thing.
2. Lechon Macau
Lechon Macau is as indulgent as it is tasty. It’s always cut in cubes, and a cross-section shows the triple layer of meat, fat, and crispy skin on top that it’s made of. In terms of texture, it’s soft and crunchy in one. Taste-wise, it’s lightly salted, so the flavors of the pork really stand out. Lechon Macau is best enjoyed with a tangy, sour-spicy mustard, but I personally pair mine with a sweet Hoisin sauce, which I thankfully have a bottle of at home.
1. Three-Cup Chicken
This slow-cooked chicken dish consists of tender pieces of chicken, tons of garlic and ginger, and a sticky sauce that almost passes off as a glaze. It’s called three-cup because the sauce is made with a cup of soy sauce, rice wine (usually mijiu, though it may be mixed with Shaoxing jiu), and sesame oil. The chicken is cooked in a claypot dish until the sauce caramelizes, resulting in sweet and savory flavors.
Where to Get Chinese Food
Thankfully, I know a place to get all of these dishes: Mann Hann. A family-owned restaurant that serves classic Chinese fare, Mann Hann’s dishes are homey and comforting, and come in portions that are great for sharing. Plus, their menu boasts of a wide variety of rice and noodle dishes, seafood, and meat viands along with vegetables and soups that make up a complete meal.
Just as diverse as their dishes, Mann Hann can be found in almost every mall. However, the original area where they first started in is in San Juan. Although it’s set in a bigger, fancier location from their humble beginnings, the food and experience remains the same.
During the first few weeks of the quarantine, they closed all of their branches. However, just a few days ago, someone from our team passed by their San Juan branch and saw this:
Yes, it’s legit! Mann Hann is back for deliveries! You can now get a hold of your comfort food favorites. Their San Juan branch in Jose Abad Santos Street is open from 10AM to 7PM daily for delivery and takeout.
Mann Hann’s in-house delivery team can send out food to those in Mandaluyong and San Juan areas. These include (but are not limited to) New Manila, and subdivisions like Acropolis, Greenmeadows, Corinthian Hills, and Corinthian Gardens. If you’re not from those areas, though, don’t worry! You can always book your own third-party courier like Lalamove or Grab Express so you can still enjoy your favorites at home.
BRB ordering some for myself right now!
Which Chinese dish do you miss the most?
628 Jose A Santos, San Juan
87232917 / 87232918 / 09273595164 / 09610273915
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